Featured Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources
Center for History and New Media: History Matters
The Center for History and New Media produces historical works in new media, tests their effectiveness in the classroom, and reflects critically on the success of new media in historical practice. CHNM’s resources include a list of “best” web sites, links to syllabi and lesson plans, essays on history and new media, and more. This link takes you to their excellent “History Matters” web site for U.S. History. Go to the Digital Blackboard section for lesson ideas that integrate the Internet. Resources are designed to benefit professional historians, high school teachers, and students of history.
See also related World History Teaching Sources.
Teaching American History
This is a wonderful collection of thoughtful and thorough lesson plans and other resources on teaching American history. Each project was created by teachers in Virginia at a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include a variety of lesson plans and resources, and some even offer instructional videos on source analysis. The lesson plans cover a range of topics in American history and utilize interesting and engaging sources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time browsing—there are many to choose from.
The Library of Congress: Lesson Plans
The new Library of Congress Teachers page provides tools and resources for using Library of Congress primary source documents in the classroom and include excellent lesson plans, document analysis tools, online and offline activities, timelines, presentations and professional development resources. The Library of Congress American Memory in particular is an outstanding resource for American history and general studies. Included are multimedia collections of photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and digitized text. Use the Teachers section to explore primary set collections and themed resources. Teachers can get updates on new tools, professional development opportunities, and Library programs, events and services.
PBS Teacher Source
PBS is a great source for information on a myriad of historical events and personalities. PBS’s assorted and diverse web exhibits supplement specific individual television series and generally include a summary of each episode, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, a glossary, photos, and links to relevant sites. Go to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — arranged by topic and grade level — and sign up for their newsletter. Categories include American History, World History, History on Television, and Biographies. Some lesson plans require viewing PBS video, but many do not.
EdTechTeacher Introduction to Guided Inquiry Activities
Explore several exemplary guided-inquiry Internet activities and learn about the possibilities for social studies guided inquiry on the Web.
BBC’s History section offers a multitude of sites, activities, games and other resources. Major categories include: Ancient History, Archaeology, Church and State, Science and Discovery, Society and Conflict, War and Culture, and Family History. There are also sections entitled Multimedia Room, Historic Figures, Timelines, Programmes, Reading Room, Talk History, For Kids, and History Trails. The BBC Multimedia zone offers games, animations, virtual tours, and galleries. Many games deal with various aspects of British history.
The National Archives: Teachers’ Resources
The National Archives Lesson Plans section contains incorporates U.S. primary documents and its excellent teaching activities correlate to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government. Lessons are organized by chronological era, from 1754 to the present.
- National Archives: DocsTeach
Using DocsTeach from the U.S. National Archives, educators can create interactive history activities that incorporate more than 3,000 primary-source materials from the National Archives. These constructivist activities engage students in hands-on exploration of history.
- National Archives: Digital Vaults
Digital Vaults is an interactive exploration of history that examines thousands of documents, photographs, and pieces of history that have been integrated in a digital format. Clicking on a document will give a description and a brief history of that archive, as well as displays a large variety of similar archives. The user has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, collect, and explore archives, as well as search for specific points in history using a keyword search. Although a lack of initial organization or index might seem overwhelming, Digital Vaults is a wonderfully imaginative resource for exploring history in a digitally compiled way.
The Center for Teaching History with Technology
The Center for Teaching History with Technology from EdTechTeacher provides a multitude of free online resources – articles, tips, strategies, and lesson plans – to help K-12 history and social studies teachers incorporate technology effectively into their courses. Visit the center and discover, among other things, how to get started teaching with technology, great examples of inquiry-based, World History and United States History lesson plans, as well as resources and tutorials for teaching history with technology. Subscribe to the freeEdTechTeacher Newsletter and receive additional resources, lesson plans, and tech tips. The Center for Teaching History with Technology is led by Tom Daccord, veteran high school history teacher, academic technology specialist, webmaster of Best of History Web Sites, and co-author of Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology: A Practical Guide for Teachers, By Teachers.
Mr. Donn’s Pages: Free Lesson Plans, Activities, and Resources
Teacher Don Donn of the Corkran (Maryland) Middle School provides complete units on various historical topics with daily lesson plans and resources. Units include Ancient History, World Geography & Maps, World Cultures/Eastern Hemisphere, World Cultures/Western Hemisphere, World History, U.S. History & U.S. Government, Sociology & Psychology, Social Studies & Literature. The numerous lesson plans and resources available at this popular site have been developed by Mr. Donn and other contributors. Lessons are most appropriate for students in grades 5-8.
Edsitement — The Best of the Humanities on the Web
EDSITEment is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities. All websites linked to EDSITEment have been reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom. This impressive site features reviewed links to top sites, professionally developed lesson plans, classroom activities, materials to help with daily classroom planning, and search engines. You can search lesson plans by subcategory and grade level; middle school lessons are the most numerous.
National Archives (UK) Education Service
The UK National Archives holds records dating back nearly 1,000 years and here you will find lessons, podcasts, and other resources. The resources cover a wide range of historical periods and are arranged in chronological periods. The lessons are mostly source based case studies centered on key questions.
Innovative Teaching with Web 2.0
Web 2.0 tools enable users to contribute content easily to the Internet and communicate with others. Blogs, wikis, and podcasts are frequently identified as Web 2.0, though many other tools and platforms fall into this category. Visit EdTechTeacher.org to learn more aboutteaching with technology. Our inquiry-based, technology integration projects and activities engender student creativity & empowerment. EdTechTeacher’s Center for Teaching History with Technology also offers tips, guides, and examples to assist you, such as:
- Educational blogging in the History classroom
- Educational wikis in the History classroom
- Podcasting in and out of the classroom
A WebQuest is a form of project-based and problem-based learning in which the resources are located on the Web. These inquiry-oriented educational sites are produced by educators for use by students and are modeled on a template developed by Professor Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University. WebQuests were pioneered by Dodge way back in 1995, but they have matured into one of the most effective frameworks for teaching with technology. Dodge’s two sites for WebQuests, http://www.webquest.org/ and Quest Garden represent a tremendous resource for educators. Tens of thousands of WebQuests are available for teachers to use online. Some WebQuests are very impressive — others less so. WebQuest resource links should be checked to make sure they are active.
The British Museum
The British Museum was founded in 1753 to promote universal understanding through the arts, natural history and science in a public museum. Its various online offerings are impressive. The British Museum provides free resources for exploring history through the lens of its excellent artifacts and exhibits. These interactive posts are grouped by age, and are suitable for use in elementary through high school-level curricula.
SCORE — Schools of California Online Resources for Educators
The Schools of California Online Resources for Educators (SCORE) project is a terrific resource for teachers and students alike. You’ll find lesson plans evaluated by history/social science leaders in California — all rated and arranged by grade level and content area. Unfortunately SCORE has been hit by budget cuts so many resources have not been updated.
The New York Times Learning Network
This informative site offers detailed lesson plans and quizzes built around New York Times articles. Check out the Lesson Plan Archive and search by keyword, subject, or grade level. Social studies lesson plans are objective and standard-based and are well supported by charts, graphs, and images.
Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines
If you are planning to show copyright materials within the confines of your classroom then your usage more than likely falls within the scope of educational “fair use.” Mind you, more and more educators are making their (or their students) presentations available online, and this practice raises some important copyright issues, so please visit our Understanding Copy Right & Creative Commons page at The Center for Teaching History with Technology. We know it’s not always easy to adhere to Fair Use policies, so here are a few simple practices that can help:
- Credit all the sources that you use in handouts and presentations.
- Don’t borrow too much from any individual work.
- Don’t republish anything from the Internet onto a public Web site without permission.
- When in doubt consult your librarian or media specialist.
Helpful Resources for the Classroom
Stanford Universities Libraries
The Stanford Universities Libraries Copyright & Fair Use Center provides articles, FAQs, primary materials, and various other helpful resources.
Copyright Crash Course
The University of Texas offers a crash course on copyright. Its “syllabus” includes an explanation of basic and applied fair use and copyright.
Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creativity. Creative Commons can help you find photos, music, text, books, educational material, and more that is free to share, or build upon, utilizing Creative Commons search tools.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Timeline of Art History
There is much quality material for art students, educators, and enthusiasts at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art web site. Start with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline of Art History, a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world. Each timeline page includes representative art from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time periods, a map of the region, an overview, and a list of key events. The timelines – accompanied by world, regional, and sub-regional maps – provide a linear outline of art history, and allow visitors to compare and contrast art from around the globe at any time in history. The MET also offers lesson plans to help integrate its collections into the classrom.
The Smithsonian Education site is divided simply into three main categories: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is keyword searchable and features lesson plans — many pertaining to history. The Students section features an interactive “Secrets of the Smithsonian” that teaches about the special collections at the Smithsonian..
Smithsonian Source: Resources for Teaching American History
Several groups of teachers conducted research at the Smithsonian and contributed primary source activities for this website. In total there are three dozen or so history lesson & culture plans at Smithsonian Education. These are engaging, quality teaching resources worth exploring.
Primary Source: Primary Source World
This site features teacher-created, classroom-ready activities designed around key primary sources, including written documents, artifacts, audio clips, visual evidence and much more. Each cluster of sources includes key questions, objectives, and a background essay to help you teach the activities with confidence and infuse more global content into your curriculum.
Public Domain Historical Images
To help you and your students avoid infringing on copyrights, EdTechTeacher has prepared an extensive list of Internet sources for public domain images, with an eye towards the humanities. Please check individual images you find at these sites to determine if there are any restrictions on usage.
An impressive, award-winning site from a New York high school teacher. Features many research links and curriculum resources for Global Studies, U.S. AP History, US European History, and American History and Government. Also has quizzes, news links, and more.
School History is a bountiful online history site that offers huge numbers of freely downloadable resources, interactive and entertaining history games and quizzes, interactive online lessons together with comprehensive links to online resources.
This CNN Education site provides teachers with instructional materials for integrating current events across the curriculum. A student section keeps students in grades 6-12 aware of the latest news of interest to them. Lesson plans, background material, profiles, links to useful Internet sites, and forums for interaction with other teachers are all included. Formerly known as CNN Student News.
Time for Kids: Teachers
Time for Kids provides online lesson plans based on the Time for Kids magazine. Lessons are organized around four editions: K-1, Grades 2, Grades 3-4, and Grades 5-6. Teachers only need to subscribe.
Education World: History Center
Education World provides practical resources for history educators. You’ll find lesson plans, articles about what other teachers are doing, professional development resources and more. Education World offers timelines, activities, work sheets, games, homework help, clip art, images, and articles.
History Lesson Plans and Resources
Edmund J. Sass, Ed.D, developed this page primarily for use by education students at the College of Saint Benedict/St.John’s University. He offers an extensive list of history lesson plans as well as lesson plans related to terrorism, tolerance, or the events of September 11.
A companion to the television channel, this commercial site contains a myriad of features and highlights for educators and students alike. Key offerings include: study guides and activities, ideas from teachers, special exhibits, speech archives, discussions, and “This Day in History.” Also, try the UK History Channel site at and its companion student site.
AwesomeStories.com is a free, non-commercial educational web site for educators (as the basis for lesson plans) and students. Stories link to organized primary and secondary source materials found principally at U.S. and other worldwide national archives, museums, libraries, universities, news organizations, and government web sites. The purpose of the site (including its separate, stand-alone channels) is to take visitors on a virtual guided tour of relevant on-line source materials. Be sure to check out Click2History.
Turning the Pages
Turning the Pages is an award-winning interactive display system developed by The British Library to increase public access and enjoyment of some of its most valuable treasures. Visitors are able to virtually “turn” the pages of manuscripts in a realistic way, using touch-screen technology and animation. There are currently fifteen treasures on display in Turning the Pages including: the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Diamond Sutra, the Sforza Hours, the Leonardo Notebook, the Golden Haggadah, the Luttrell Psalter, Blackwell’s Herbal, the Sherborne Missal, and Sultan Baybars’ Qur’an.
Primary Access allows students to use primary source documents, pictures, videos, and recordings to create multimedia presentations about a specific topic in history. It uses a general layout that consists of video recordings, outlines of ideas, timelines of history that include dated pictures and archives and much more. Although it can be very informative, Primary Access’s simple layout and summarized history explanations make it seem a bit more directed towards middle school students. While the information may seem limited at times, it provides a good layout for students to begin formulating a general idea of what they want to focus on.
Note: This is a subscription website, but one that many teachers feel is worth the expense.ActiveHistory.co.uk is the creation of an impressive and award-winning UK teacher who provides interactive simulations, decision-making games, self-marking quizzes, worksheets and lesson plans for teachers and students of World History. It is aimed at students between 11-18 years.
C-SPAN in the Classroom
Access C-SPAN’s complete program archives including all videos. C-SPAN in the Classroom is a free membership service that offers information and resources to assist educators in their use of primary source, public affairs video from C-SPAN television. You do not have to be a member to use C-SPAN online resources in your classroom, but membership includes access to teaching ideas, activities and classroom tools
Virtual Tours & Electronic Field Trips
See “Examples of Virtual Tours and Electronic Field Trips” from The Center for Teaching History with Technology for an annotated list of great web sites to use for virtual tours.
Educational Resources from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s site offers information on the Federal Reserve System and monetary policy with sections for students, teachers, and the general public. A highlight from the Student Activities section is “FedVille” which allows students to explore the subject of economics through a fun and interactive game. Another recent game is “Chair the Fed,” in which a student is tasked with adjust rates to balance unemployment and inflation. Semi-random events in-game simulate the effects that real-world policy can have on the market. Teacher Resources provides course material and helpful links. For information on a variety of more specific topics, see the helpful Publications section.
Games Economists Play
“Games Economists Play” is a website compiling over 170 descriptions of games for economics teachers (ranging from high school to college level) that can be used in classrooms. These game descriptions are divided into two major categories, Micro and Macroeconomics. The website is simple in design, thus making it very easy to navigate. It’s search features and index allows teachers to scan the website for games specific to topics being covered. “Games Economists Play” has a bibliographical layout that makes it organized and efficient in finding helpful games used for teaching economics.
A Geography teacher from Pennsylvania has put together this award-winning teaching resource. Contents are organized around four major areas: Geographic Information; Geography Games, Puzzles, Quizzes, Trivia; Pennsylvania; and Geography World. Check out the links to Maps and Globes as well as the Geography Quizzes area. The site design may look outdated, but the resources are updated regularly.
The Educator’s Reference Desk: Lesson Plans
Formerly AskEric, the Educator’s Reference Desk is a project of the Information Institute of Syracuse. The Lesson Plan section contains unique social studies and history lesson plans written and submitted by teachers for various grade levels. See also the Crossroads K-16 American History Curriculum for curriculum units and resources.
National Council for the Social Studies: Social Studies.org
National Council for the Social Studies offers support for social studies educators. Links are categorized by themes of the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. Teachers share classroom experiences at the site and on the NCSS listserv. The National Council for the Social Studies Data Bank features an annotated list of teaching resources categorized by the ten themes of the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. Many of these resources involve technology integration, especially internet use.
The History News Network
The HistoryNewsNetwork was created in June 2001 and features articles by historians on both the left and the right who provide historical perspective on current events. HNN exists to provide historians and other experts a national forum in which to educate Americans about important and timely issues, and it is the only web site on the Internet wholly devoted to this task. HNN is a nonprofit publication run by George Mason University.
HTI @ OSU
The History Teaching Institute at Ohio State University offers variety of lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school grades. See also related eHistory resources from OSU.
teAchnology: History Lesson Plans
TeAchnology is an online teacher resource offering thousands of K-12 lesson plans and free printable worksheets.
The Henry Ford: Education Resource Bank
The Henry Ford museum resource website provides multiple resources from “America’s traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation.” Search the Resource Bank by curriculum topic or theme.
Voice of the Shuttle: History Page
Part of an extensive guide to humanities resources that provides numerous links to feature sites, teaching resources, electronic journals, course syllabi, and more. Aimed at university educators.
Tip: See “Examples of Virtual Tours and Electronic Field Trips”from The Center for Teaching History with Technology for an annotated list of great sites for virtual tours.
Run by a small educational publishing company, this website provides free online materials for major history curriculum subjects. Visitors can sign up for a free monthly e-mail newsletter covering web reviews and using technology in the history classroom.
Teacher’s Virtual School
The Spartacus Teachers’ Virtual School History Department provides lessons under Key Stage (2,3,4) and Topic. Teachers are invited to send in details of any online history lessons they have produced for their students.
Teaching with Historic Places — Women’s History Lesson Plans
Teaching with Historic Places complete lesson plans that consider important aspects of women’s history. Created by National Park Service interpreters, preservation professionals, and educators, these lessons are free for classroom use.
Studentsfriend.com — World History
This non-profit, teacher-to-teacher site is a guide for high school teachers of world history and geography, although much of the content is suitable for teachers of other social studies subjects as well. Content includes fundamental information about history teaching, resources, a concise alternative textbook and lesson plans.
Lesson Plans and Resources for Social Studies Teachers
Dr. Marty Levine, Professor Emeritus of Secondary Education, California State University, Northridge (CSUN), has gathered lesson plans and resources from the Internet that social studies teachers should find very useful. Among the categories are Lesson Plans and Teaching Strategies, Online Activities, and Teaching Current Events. The site is detailed and well organized, but not actively maintained and thus there are several broken links.
The Academy Curricular Exchange
The Curriculum Exchange offers a variety of lesson plans created by a consortium of teachers from 14 states. Their social studies “mini” lessons are organized by Elementary School, Middle School, and High School.
Edhelper.com provides lesson plans for teachers of social studies and other academic disciplines. It includes documents-based and timeline activities and there are Geogrpahy and Economics activities as well.
EdClass by SchoolKiT is a library of hundreds of classroom-ready learning modules that make use of technology to enhance learning. There are some excellent sample modules to peruse at the site, but you must register to gain access to all the modules.
This website, run by the Oral History Society, provides some good practical advice on how to start an oral history project.
Classroom Lesson Plans: Teaching About 9-11
History News Network — In addition to the sites listed by HNN, teachers may want to consult, which is sponsored by the Center for History & New Media at George Mason University and the American Social History Project/Center for Media & Learning at CUNY. This site features a large digital archive of individuals’ stories about 9-11.
Textbook Companion Web Sites
The Textbook Companion Web Sites page from The Center for Teaching History with Technology points out that many textbook companion web sites contain an impressive amount of technology tools and materials, such as PowerPoint presentations, primary sources, interactive maps, interactive tests and quizzes, essay questions, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and more. Even if you don’t use these textbooks, you may well find many uses for their companion sites.
A More Perfect Union
Lessons and resources to support resources that support Houghton Mifflin’s Middle School Social Studies textbook.
Learn History is produced by a History teacher at a London high school and features notes, quizzes, exercises and PowerPoint lessons.
Web Guide for AP World History
The Web Guide for AP World History includes some 500 web links that are categorized and annotated to compliment the AP World History course. The Web Guide is organized into the five sections of the AP World History course: Foundations, 1000-1450, 1450-1750, 1750-1914, and 1914-present. The thematic and analytical sections that are presented follow the structure of the AP World History course. Visitors must register through the College Board.
GCSE History Pages
Main features of this site include interactive tests and quizzes, revision tips, practice GCSE exam papers with mark-schemes for self assessment, revision notes and structured lessons.
Course Models: Medieval Europe
Part of the California History-Social Science content standards and annotated course which include: background information, focus questions, pupil activities and handouts, assessment, and references to books, articles, web sites, literature, audio-video programs, and historic site. Grade 7. Site is currently down for renovations as of June 2020.
The Saskatchewan Social Studies Curriculum has developed a “resource hot sheet” dealing with topics identified in the History 20 (Modern World History) curriculum. The resource hot sheets can act as a primary or secondary reading, or to assist in classroom discussions of a variety of topics. Each page has been supported with appropriate visual images, and where possible, first person accounts by individuals who were present during the event. In addition, a number of multimedia-learning objects have been place including sound bites, mini – movies and flash items.
Quizzes and Games
Want to create your own online quizzes or games? The Center for Teaching History with Technology provides an annotated list of links of Links to Games and Activities See also the Best of History Web Sites Games and Animation section for recommended games.
HistoryTeacher.net: AP U.S. Quizzes
The quizzes and puzzles are part of a general site called American Resources. They are arranged chronologically and thematically; the quiz questions are challenging, but there are only five per section.
Practice Quizzes and Crossword Puzzles for U.S. History
The quizzes and puzzles are part of a general site called American Resources. They are arranged chronologically and thematically; the quiz questions are good, but there are only five per section.